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Gil de Ferran joins BAR team 06 Apr 2005

IRL driver Gil de Ferran (BRA). Formula One World Championship, Rd15, United States Grand Prix, Indianapolis, USA, 26 September 2003. World © Moy/Sutton

Gil de Ferran, two-time CART champion and winner of the 2003 Indianapolis 500, has been appointed as BAR's sporting director, a newly-created role which he takes up with immediate effect.

De Ferran, 37, will be responsible for running the team at Grands Prix, allowing CEO Nick Fry and technical director Geoff Willis more time to concentrate on their respective roles, as they bid to get the Honda-powered squad back on track after a disappointing start to the 2005 season.

Explaining de Ferran’s appointment, Fry said, "BAR Honda's second place success in the 2004 Championship was testimony to the team's strong operational structure and our pursuit of engineering excellence.

“However, to progress towards our final goal of winning the World Championship we knew there was a piece of the jigsaw still missing, which is hands-on experience of what it takes to win in single-seater racing at the highest level.”

De Ferran began a highly successful motor racing career in 1982, competing in his native Brazil. He progressed through the ranks of the European single-seater Formulae, winning the British F3 Championship in 1992, before heading to the United States in 1995 where he raced Indy Cars for nine seasons, retiring from driving at the end of 2003. Since then he has been working as an expert commentator for ABC and ESPN's motorsport coverage in the US.

"This is an enormously exciting challenge for me and in many ways a natural progression from my driving career,” said de Ferran. My interest in the sport always extended beyond driving and this opportunity is the best I could hope for.

"I first met Nick Fry many years ago through Jackie Stewart and we started having serious discussions about the team and how I could possibly make a positive contribution late last year. The talent and potential of BAR Honda is obvious for all to see. So, not only is it a great honour for me to be invited to join such a prestigious organisation, but during our conversations it became clear to me that I would have no problem fitting in with all the people involved.”

Welcoming his new colleague, Willis added: “We are extremely fortunate to be able to welcome someone of Gil's stature to the role of BAR Honda Sporting Director. His racing pedigree speaks for itself but his ability to combine that with excellent man-management and a highly analytical approach to the 'business' of racing will be an enormous asset to our team.

"Although I met Gil relatively recently, I immediately recognised that his skills in getting the best out of a team on-event were the perfect complement to BAR Honda's existing design and engineering talent. I am really looking forward to working with Gil and welcome him wholeheartedly to our team."

After their inspired rise in 2004, BAR have had a troubled start to their 2005 campaign. Despite some promising race pace from their 007 machine, they have yet to get a car to the finish this year.